Which artists, books or music have inspired your work?
In my undergraduate years, I was encouraged by seeing publications on the works of Andile Dyalvane, by that time he was alumni of the former NMMU School of Music Art and Design in Gqebherha, other international Ceramic artists include Margaret Odundo, Paul Soldner, Christopher Gryder and Peter Voulkos. And the greatest composition of all time is Alex Bouguereau`s painting The Oreads.
Books that have inspired me for all time include Charles Darwin`s Origin of species, James Mahu`s Collected Works of the Wingmakers Volume I, Zakes Mda The sculptors of Mapungubwe, Judith Mason The Mind's Eye: An Introduction to Making Images, and then a longer list of books still waiting for me to read them.
Although sometimes I will work in complete silence. Music is an intrinsic part of my studio presence and I’ve spent years collecting (Fela Kuti, Massive Attack, Thandiswa, Juluka, Bonobo, Mozart, Drum n Bass, Meshuggah, All them withches, the list goes on).
Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
There are many but I can say I admire Judith Mason for her philosophical contribution in her book The Mind's Eye, it’s a timeless philosophical work that opened my eyes.
If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
It would be one of the gold foil artefacts found in Mapungubwe, particularly the rhino
Pick three artists who you would be honored to exhibit with – and why
Madoda Fani – His ceramic pots are enigmatic technical masterpieces
Nikesha Breeze – Her contact with clay transcends the physical connections and processes of making, and this results in the work being truly iconic to present and future.
Jo Roets – Because my interpretation of her work has been shifting in very interesting ways ever since I saw it, I feel it has something in common with mine as it manifests from a seemingly intuitive automation of the abstract, it’s interesting to anticipate what is next.
How did you get started? Did you always want to be an artist?
Since I can remember I’ve always been drawing on anything I could find, in my village as kids we played endlessly with different types of river clay, sculpting animals’ figurines and vehicles, immersing ourselves in imaginary roads, landscapes and territories. In high school I'd sell my drawings from R5 to R10 for A3. Since back then nothing in the community substantiated art as a career, after attending rigid career briefings from my mother and boring presentations and career expos in school, I only understood that I’ll need a career that involves drawing all day and getting paid the salary of a doctor, so at tertiary level the plan was to be an architect - buy my points were too low and the only way in was to do a foundation certificate in art and design at the NMMU school of Music Art and Design, at the time headed by Mary Duker.
Incidentally this became the very first time I encountered art on an academic level, meeting people like me who were even better at drawing, a vast holy universe of art and human history took me in as a prodigal child, I passed this course with three distinctions, Drawing, Art theory and Photography. The next year I qualified to study Architectural technology in the same institution, I studied for two years even working as intern in an architectural firm in 2007, but eventually I found my way back to the school of Music Art and Design where in 2011, I conducted my first experiments with sand cast ceramics.
What are some of the key themes you explore in your work?
Although not too obvious, the most prominent theme in my sand cast ceramics is the current notions between human intelligence and artificial intelligence. I like to bring this across through understanding that my work is fashioned using an unpredictable array of physical tools deployed in a highly unique and intuitive way. Even though I can design an A.I. that can collect quantitative data or to even digitize and archive my technical procedures, my work is evidence that artificial intelligence cannot function to the depths of intuition, pure psychic automation using memory, imagination and the nerve endings at your fingertips.
Fired clay is a recording device that can survive time longer than the hardest metals. In our modern anthropogenic discourse if we can remember this, we can also speculate that in our modern age where all information has been computerized and almost all human experience digitized, this means that all human history and knowledge can be wiped out in an instant by things softer than time.
What should people know about your art that they can’t tell from looking at it?
Every piece is made from a once off sand mold and is impossible to replicate, the closest thing to creating a copy is a combination of photogrammetry modelling and 3-D printing.
What are the most essential items in your studio and why?
My clay, sand and tools are highly essential, the clay is specially prepared to suit the needs of the process, the sand is also a special mixture that is taylor made for my process, the tools are a crucial part of the making process, they are what creates he unique motif found in my sculptural vessels, they are combination of handmade, digitally fabricated and found objects, which total about 1500 individual units and counting.
Tell us more about your creative process.
As I’ve mentioned before My process is highly unique, the first of its kind in Africa, there is ample opportunity for anyone to learn it and coin their own motifs and visual laws within it as long as they understand the most favorable tactile conditions of both sand and clay. For this purpose, I’m looking forward to establishing my own studio and begin producing larger work and collaborating with technology and design researchers to finally make substance of the questions of creativity as an aspect of both human cognition and artificial intelligence.
Do you believe an artist should use their platform to influence society? Why?
Yes, I believe they should, but only after critically recognizing what is to be influenced in the first place. I believe artists learn something new after every new artwork, constantly there is opportunities to share what they have learnt speaking out loud and using words, speaking about experiences that are otherwise nonphysical, French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once noted that it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eyes, with this in mind I believe art has a way of substantiating that which is everything heartfelt.
Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work?
Whenever I identify one, another more favorable more meaningful work emerges, so I think the more I keep making is the more intricate the pattern will be, the pattern of how these artworks come about.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
From being chosen in 2019 for the Vallauris Ceramic artist in residence in France, a great moment which unfolded a series of ripple effects, the following year I was selected into the Blackrock Senegal artist residency and then 2021 winning the State of the Art Gallery Award, that series of fortunate events set off a realization about the potential for my work to be a source of great experience, for me and anyone within its gravity.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My aspirations are to strengthen my understanding of this process, this will be possible if I can find a large safe space that I can my own sand casting studio. Since this is entirely new work, there is high potential for millions of possibilities in shape and form in my works technique, there is still billions of possibilities in the combinations and variations of color, form, size and even the complexities of the motif that makes up the unique appearance of my work.
I still have aspirations to build collaborations all over the world with Engineers of Artificial Intelligence, I believe there is plenty more to learn using my existing masters research and the endless process of making.
I have to mount this studio in a couple of places around the world, already there is potential here in Cape Town, Dakar, Senegal, New York USA, Abuja Nigeria and Accra Ghana, but only time will tell how I put such plans to action.